UL-Lafayette’s basketball program made an early impression on Horace Broadnax, who as coach of the Savannah State squad will bring his long-range-shooting Tigers to the Cajundome on Friday.
As a player, Broadnax had committed to the powerful Georgetown program in 1981, during his high school senior season at Plant City, Florida. That November, the Hoyas and heralded freshman Patrick Ewing faced the Ragin’ Cajuns in the opening round of the Great Alaska Shootout to start the college basketball season, and the Cajuns pulled off the first of three upsets in the Anchorage tournament with a 70-61 win.
Broadnax and UL-Lafayette coach Bob Marlin mentioned that connection this fall in a conversation while setting up details for Friday’s unusual 4 p.m. tipoff.
“He said that’s what he thinks of when he hears 'Ragin’ Cajuns,' ” Marlin said. “He was a part of some very good basketball teams (at Georgetown).”
Broadnax’s Georgetown teams won two Big East Conference titles and one national championship, and he played in more games for the Hoyas than all but five players in program history. He was selected a few years ago as one of the top 100 players in Georgetown history.
Broadnax is in his 13th season at Savannah State, leading the Tigers to the Mideastern Athletic Conference regular-season title and an NIT appearance in 2012 and a CIT appearance in 2016. His squad earned notoriety last year as the national leader in 3-point baskets, making 13.5 per game.
That hasn’t changed this year. The Tigers shot 51 treys Wednesday, making 15 in a 114-80 win over Middle Georgia State. In three games, Savannah State (1-2) has attempted 128 3-pointers.
“A team that shoots the ball from that distance is always in a game,” Marlin said. “We have to defend and run people off the 3-point line. You have to take care of your own yard, so to speak, guard your yard and try to keep from getting broken down on the dribble and creating a help situation, because they can kick it out to anyone.”
The Cajuns (1-1) only allowed one 3-pointer against Louisiana College on Tuesday in a runaway 113-58 win, that one in the game’s final minutes, but Marlin said the task will be tougher in the final home game before UL-Lafayette heads to next week’s prestigious Cayman Islands Classic.
“Nine of their top 10 players are juniors or seniors,” he said of Savannah State. “They’ve got an experienced team, and they can defend. They’ll sit back in a 2-2-1 and stay in that zone, so we’ll have to make shots. We’re going to play teams that play a lot of zones in the Sun Belt, so this will help get us ready for that.”
UL-Lafayette hit 60.9 percent from the floor against the Wildcats after a 36.6 shooting performance in the 94-76 opener loss at Ole Miss. That accuracy helped six players score in double figures, led by sophomore guard P.J. Hardy’s 19 points off the bench — part of 61 points scored by Cajun reserves.
Hardy hit five 3-pointers as part of the Cajuns' 13-of-26 performance outside the arc. True freshman Cedric Russell had four treys after hitting 5 of 8 against Ole Miss, and for the young season the Cajuns are 21 of 49 on 3-point shots.
“We took care of business and shot the ball extremely well Tuesday,” Marlin said. “Our defense was pretty good, but we were a little too casual with the ball and turned it over too much.”
Savannah State opened with losses at Cincinnati (107-77) and at home to East Tennessee State (76-61) before Wednesday’s win. Dexter McClanahan and Alante Fenner, both 6-foot-5 guards in the Tigers’ five-guard lineup, lead the team with 15.7 and 12.0 scoring averages.